Did I Mention I Love You? (DIMILY trilogy, book 1) #BookReview

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When sixteen-year-old Eden Munro agrees to spend the summer with her estranged father in the beachfront city of Santa Monica, California, she has no idea what she’s letting herself in for. Eden’s parents are divorced and have gone their separate ways, and now her father has a brand new family. For Eden, this means she’s about to meet three new step-brothers. The eldest of the three is Tyler Bruce, a troubled teenager with a short temper and a huge ego.

Complete polar opposites, Eden quickly finds herself thrust into a world full of new experiences as Tyler’s group of friends take her under their wing. But the one thing she just can’t understand is Tyler, and the more she presses to figure out the truth about him, the more she finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn’t her step-brother.

Throw in Tyler’s clingy girlfriend and a guy who has his eyes set on Eden, and there’s secrets, lies and a whole lot of drama. But how can Eden keep her feelings under control? And can she ever work out the truth about Tyler? Did I Mention I Love You is the first book in the phenomenal DIMILY trilogy, following the lives of Eden Munro and Tyler Bruce as they try to find their way in an increasingly confusing world.

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star three and a half

I know that reading young adult novels is not related to age but there was at least one time I couldn’t escape the thought of ‘I’m too old for this’ flashing through my mind.

Would you feel attracted to a moody teenager who can’t say a single nice word to you? Me neither but when Eden arrives at her father’s new place and meets his new family she can’t help being very interested in Tyler. Too much for her own good btw as he’s a) already taken and b) euhm.. family. She must have seen something in his eyes that I obviously didn’t share because I couldn’t immediately see past his arrogant, egotistical attitude. I had my eyes on another guy right away, someone who was more of a gentleman but of course Eden has a penchant for a bad boy type of guy.

I get it though, Tyler’s mysterious ways are a serious X-factor and of course he’s not the incredible badass that he claims to be. I did enjoy the story in the end and my own feelings towards Tyler started thawing when he finally gave some insight into his behaviour. The last part has a few twists in what was otherwise quite a straightforward storyline of slow burning attraction between Eden and Tyler, and made me race through it to know how they would handle their ‘situation’. Would they end up together or not?

If you enjoy dark brooding guys, a somewhat taboo relationship and a good dose of instalove then this is definitely a read you don’t want to miss. Even though I didn’t really fall in love with this read, the guy was too wishywashy for my taste, I am actually a little curious about the sequel, so you never know that I give it a chance in the future anyway.

I won a free paperback copy of this novel via a giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

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Turtles All The Way Down by John Green #BookReview

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‘It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.’

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred thousand dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

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I was very excited to read my first John Green novel and I thought I was going to love it since I really like YA mystery and the mental health issue also sounded quite interesting but I’m afraid I didn’t fall in love with the plot nor the characters.

A lot of it is probably due to never having felt a real connection with Aza, the person this whole novel is actually about. She’s not a very remarkable character except for what makes her different: she suffers from obsessive thinking. I think it’s great that this condition is brought under our attention but it was quite hard to understand and often sympathise with Aza. I did make some progress towards the end of the novel in regards to knowing how she is as a person and what the consequences are for her but it still wasn’t easy to grasp. I know novels are sometimes too rosy-colored and they often make problems go away or mental illnesses resolve themselves and I don’t like that but I would have preferred to see some progression, something to be really happy about for Aza. The only people evolving are her friends and the reader and she seemed to remain at a standstill. Maybe that’s the whole point of the novel too but even so, she could have showed perhaps a bit more how to deal with it properly and how to live her life happily instead of only highlighting the problems. This way it was definitely not a good news show.

Unfortunately the mystery part of the missing billionnaire was also only a small section of the novel. It really wasn’t what the novel was about and wasn’t followed through. I believe it was just a way to get in touch with Davis as there wasn’t happening much with the plotline. As for Davis himself, I quite often felt sorry for him and his little brother. The spiralling thoughts Aza is having also impact her personal life and relationships and the poor guy is of course caught in the middle when he tries to connect with her.

Turtles All The Way Down was sometimes a YA story and sometimes almost lyrically philosophical. There are plenty of wonderful one-liners that really spoke to me and make you want to get into a highlighting mode. Green uses metaphores aplently and one of Davis’ qualities is quoting poets and using their quotes to refer to his own life. I liked it but it was all a bit much sometimes.

It was disturbing to hear Aza’s spiralling thoughts and seeing that she can’t break those thoughts, telling her what to do if she doesn’t want to be killed by bacteria. C. diff. is her her greatest torment and she goes very far in her thought process.

I wouldn’t read this novel again but in the end it created more awareness for me and I’m sure everyone who reads it and I’m grateful for that.

I won a paperback copy of this novel in a blogger’s giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas #BookReview

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Sam Holloway has survived the worst that life can throw at you. But he’s not really living. His meticulous routines keep everything nice and safe – with just one exception . . .

Three nights a week, Sam dons his superhero costume and patrols the streets. It makes him feel invincible – but his unlikely heroics are getting him into some sticky situations.

Then a girl comes along and starts to shatter the walls Sam has built around himself. Now, he needs to decide if he’s brave enough to take off the mask, and to confront the grief he’s been avoiding for so long . . .

Hilarious and heart-warming, this is a story about grief, loneliness, and the life-changing power of kindness.

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Sam is 26, lives in his immaculately clean house, has 2 equally geeky friends and he works in the factory of a Japanase wholesaler where he’s a model employee. At night he’s roaming the streets (in a ridiculous costume) and although his actions are limited to helping elderly ladies with their shopping or bringing lost dogs back home, he feels good with these little helpful acts. Good people doing good deeds definitely applies to Sam.. but when he falls in love, everything is jeopardized and in danger of falling apart, including the safe, simple life he carefully built up. It all starts to unravel and while he is used to coping on his own, he might need some help to deal with the setbacks he comes across. Sometimes help does come from the people you least expect it from. One of the people reaching out and helping him was definitely a surprise but I cheered when I realised he was actually getting help from someone in his corner!

It took me a while to get into this novel but Sam did grow on me as the story developed and in the end I genuinly cared and I wanted him to overcome the past. The episodes of ‘The Phantasm’ were at first quirky and funny – as a parody on old heroes like batman –  but behind Sam as the masked man lies a tragedy slowly revealing itself as the story progressed. There was a shift at a certain moment from which point I started to understand more clearly why he felt like he needed this alter ago. The general hilarity of it all changed everything with the new insights. His background and the trauma which he dealt with on his own definitely shed a different light on his actions. There’s a reason why he feels best when he’s in character and why he simply can’t hang up his costume, even after he hears his love interest say she thinks The Phantasm is ridiculous, and it was sad and I felt heavy-hearted hearing what life had thrown at him.

There was a good mix of laughter and pain in this novel. His backstory was very tragic, well thought-out and the best part of the novel for me. Unfortunately that’s also probably what I will remember in a few month’s time and the first part of the novel won’t hang in my head as long.. it was so cartoonish at times that I had a hard time imagining this character could be a real person. So to end I’d say I liked it, but didn’t love it. A commendable debut and if you have a bit more fantasy than me, you might love it.

I received a free copy of this novel from publisher Wildfire in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

The perfect summer read: In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira #BookReview @avadellaira @HotKeyBooks @imosebba

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Because the missing pieces always matter . . .

Marilyn is in search of freedom. She grew up as a child actor, her mother’s meal ticket out of mediocrity. But it’s been a long time since she booked a job, and she and her mother have no choice but to move in with her volatile uncle.

Marilyn is counting down the days until she can escape to college, and the promise of her own future. That is, until she falls in love with James, the boy downstairs, who shows her that her life is worth living in the present. At 17, Marilyn is about to learn that everything can change in an instant.

Angie is in search of answers. She is mixed race and has never met her father, but she knows she looks and thinks a lot like him. Though Angie grew up with her devoted mother, Marilyn, she’s always felt the absence of the man she never knew.

But after discovering that her mother has been lying to her, Angie sets off on a road trip to Los Angeles, in search of an unknown uncle – and maybe even her dad. At 17, she hopes to finally find out the truth about where she came from so she can discover who she truly is.

Told from the perspective of these two young women, Marilyn’s in the late 90s, and Angie’s today, IN SEARCH OF US is a sweeping inter-generational story about mothers and daughters, love and loss, holding on and letting go.

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This is just one of those books that really fill your heart and makes you sad and smile and it’s all happening at the same time you know. There’s a mystery and a love story at the base of this novel. They’ll meet in the proverbially perfect and heart-shattering middle.

The novel switches between Angie wanting to know more about her father and trying to find out if  he’s dead or alive, and how it all started with her father and Marilyn, Angie’s mother. I loved seeing the romance between Marilyn and James develop and how she was welcomed into his warm family. You know that they’re not together any more and Marilyn still can’t think of him without tearing up so I was prepared for something terrible to happen but when I came to that part of the novel the impact was still bigger than I anticipated. I knew it was coming, couldn’t avoid it try as I might, and still was quite in shock.

Both plotlines, Angie’s search in the present and Marilyn’s encounter with James, at the same age but 17 years earlier, were very engrossing and it was actually fun and engrossing to read this dual timeline. Angie might have started out alone in her desire for answers but as the story progressed and the connection between Marilyn and James became bigger, we both ended up longing to know and even I hoped he was still alive.

But even if 16 year-old Angie had all my sympathy and understanding and I adored Dellaira’s skilled writing that made her turn to her favorite songs whenever she felt the need in time of worries and trouble, I loved her mother Marilyn in her younger version most of all. She’s such a good person and the attraction and romance with James was nothing other than perfect. They have such a sweet connection, I was already dreading the moment it would end. They seemed so right for each other so I couldn’t wrap my head around it, until I actually read the words.

In Search Of Us was such a lovely novel with beautiful people (the only exception being Uncle Woody who grudgingly shares his house with Marilyn and her mother), lots of cool 90’s music references  and a whole lot of love. This novel is going to steal your heart, just like it did mine :-).

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Goodreads Monday (May 2018)

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I saw this meme on Books, Vertigo and Tea and I thought this one seemed fun to join and feature on my blog from time to time as well! The original post of Goodreads Monday was posted by Lauren’s Page Turners. Thank you Lauren for this great idea. This really is a great way to help me take another look at all the books added to the wishlist so long ago and at the same time I can share some interesting titles.

There’s only one rule: Simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to link back to Lauren’s Page turners and add your own links!

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Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

I shelved this on 12 September 2016 on Goodreads. I just realised this novel has a staggering 4.15 rating on Goodreads (and a 4.6 rating or 75% 5 stars on Amazon) so it’s worth bumping it up my list.

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When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

So what do you think, yay or nay? Have you read it or is it on your readlist too?

Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton #BookReview

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Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road.

She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. And very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance, arrive and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.

But what is she supposed do now?

Lily has no option but to follow her body and sees her family – her parents and her twin brother – start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .

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star three and a half

It must be karma because while I was finishing this novel, something very sad happened to someone at work. One day he’s there, the next he’s not.. gone in the blink of an eye, much like Lily in this novel.

I’m not one to believe in an afterlife or staying around on earth (although I did really love the movie Ghost) but I actually found some comfort in the story as I imagined my colleague following everyone around and still being near. Sometimes you just find it in unexpected places when you need it. If you are struggling with feelings of grief, having difficulties letting a loved one go, then this is a nice novel to lose yourself into and draw some strength and positive thoughts from in the end.

Sunflowers in February touches subjects as spirituality and life after death but all in a charmingly funny way. It’s a book about trying to hold on – and Lily is quite literally holding on to her old life by claiming her brother’s body – but also about letting go. I had some problems with Lily’s selfish choice to take what wasn’t hers and putting her brother in her own shoes. She also didn’t make much of an effort either acting like a boy. Imagine your brother squeeling over a pair of shoes, ahum. So sometimes she did irritate me a little bit and I thought I would do better (not that I’ve ever tried mind). If it was an effort at being hilariously funny then it was maybe somewhat cheeky and humourous but not in a laughing out loud kind of way but I felt the story didn’t need it really or it was perhaps not something I was looking for in that moment so that’s probably why I also liked the story more towards the ending. In the final part she’s more reflective and appreciative of everybody and you can feel the warmth of her family and her friends even though they don’t know she’s there.

Overall, this was a light and humurous read which started out from a horrific situation but was beautifully turned around and left me with a heart-warming and satisfying feeling.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

180 Seconds by Jessica Park #BookReview

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Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

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Who knew that 180 seconds of staring into Esben’s eyes could turn Allison’s life around so much? I know how it sounds and what happened in those 3 minutes of silence is hard to explain but the author made it an extremely loaded moment and was able to describe it with lots of feeling. I think this book pretty much falls or stands with this scene because it has to be believeable that they connect in that moment and I did feel it in the beautiful way it was written. Those 180 seconds with all of Allison’s thoughts and emotions swirling around and the description of that connection, of him really seeing behind her walls, was amazing to see.

Allison has always been guarded and has done everything to protect her heart, never letting anyone in behind those high walls and I couldn’t have been happier to see that Esben really sees through her.. isn’t it what we all ultimately want, being understood and able to be ourself and still be loved? It was so easy to root for Allison.

This novel is so heart-warming and has such a great cast of characters. I loved Allison’s father Simon, her best friend Steffi and Esben’s sister Kerry. There’s a background story that is really moving for each of them and made me like them even more. And Esben, oh Esben is one of those perfect book boyfriends. He’s doing so much good in the world, showing random acts of kindness via the videos he uploads. He’s so thoughtful and caring and everything a girl would want.

But then.. my poor heart! I didn’t expect it to happen AT ALL but reading this novel made me feel as if my heart was going to explode. Their attraction and development of the love story was so sweet and beautiful and gave me such a high but then a cruel, cruel author (just kidding) took my blissful feeling and turned me in an almost blubbering mess. Yes there were actual tears and believe me when I tell you that doesn’t happen very often. 180 Seconds got me all emotional though and it’ll be added to my shortlist of books that make me cry. This was a story of enormous personal growth, it was moving and touching, with enough sadness and love to get me through the next few months of reading.

180 Seconds is the first novel I read by Jessica Park and it certainly won’t be the last. She definitely scored in my books!

This novel was included in the Bookworm Box of May 2017.